Manage time with these tips and tools

From staff reportsFebruary 4, 2013 

Small business owners have to handle a lot of responsibilities to keep their business running. Shop Talk reporter Virginia Bridges asked owners how they manage their time and what tools they use. Here is what they said.

•  “I rely on two to-do lists, one for financial and one for tasks,” said Keith Cassell, president of Cassell Design Group, a Durham graphic design firm that’s been in business since 1987. “I use an electronic calendar set to replicate reminders, especially for financial/business tasks. But for work … I use a good old handwritten hit list of project tasks that I rewrite and update every morning.”

•  “What enables me to get a bit ahead each day is an achievable list of things to do, a willingness to ‘block’ incoming demands and re-route them to fit my own schedule, and a single-minded focus on the thing I am doing at the moment, until that task is done,” said Jim Jackson, owner-operator of Raleigh’s Artcraft Sign, a custom commercial sign shop that has been in business since 1933.

•  “We start each day at the shop with a hand-written ‘to-do’ list,” said Cheryl, Katie and Leeann Hynes, sisters and co-owners of Epona & Oak, a 4-year-old boutique in Raleigh that provides wellness services. “Google calendar is great for tracking daily appointments with clients, vendors and meetings. We use Excel and QuickBooks for all our financials. And as three sisters who own the business, we have found humor is our most invaluable tool.”

•  “Because I’m rarely at my desk, I make myself accessible to my staff, customers and suppliers via mobile phone and text,” said Richard Kilby, president of Barefoot Press, a Raleigh printing, signage and graphic design shop that has been in business for 25 years. “So that I can maintain productivity in the shop, I try to limit my email correspondence to several sessions per day.”

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